Infertility test for men can be performed in many ways. Laboratory tests are more credible than home tests, since they give more accurate results and help in determining the treatment method to be followed (if needed). Infertility tests are recommended for both partners, since fertility problems can affect either male partner or female partner or both. (Click here for more information on infertility test for women).
Testing and diagnosis of infertility can be a lengthy and challenging process. Hence, patience, commitment and mutual support of couples under investigation are very important.
The video below explains basic infertility evaluations performed for men and women.
Most common methods of infertility test for men are explained below:
Sperm disorders are one of the main causes of infertility in men. Many home infertility tests for men that perform semen analysis are medically approved and accurate. However, main drawback of these home tests is that, most of them measure only one factor: sperm count (sperm concentration). A few home tests measure both sperm count and sperm motility, but these tests are more expensive than others. In general, home tests available in the market at present are not capable of evaluating all sperm disorders (click for more information). Besides this, home tests do not look into causes of infertility (click for more information) other than sperm disorders. Nevertheless, taking a home test can be considered as a start in the right direction.
First steps in a medical infertility diagnosis are a detailed interview and a physical examination. The fertility specialist will gather information from the individual or couple under investigation about health history, sexual habits and history of sexual problems, birth control use, use of prescription medication, surgical history, exposure to chemicals, toxins or radiation, life style factors such as smoking, excessive drinking or use of illegal drugs, reports of prior infertility treatment, family history of reproductive problems etc. This would be followed up with a physical examination of the scrotum, testes, penis and prostate gland to check for varicocele, undescended testes (cryptorchidism), absence or blockage of vas deferens, presence of cysts, warts or other physical abnormalities such as hypospadias. The fertility specialist may then recommend any of the following tests.
Laboratory Semen Analysis
This is the most common infertility test for men. A sample of semen collected from the individual under investigation is tested to evaluate sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology. It is recommended that the individual under diagnosis abstain from ejaculation for at least 2 days (but not more than 5 days) prior to semen collection. The semen sample can be collected at home or at doctor’s office. If the sample is collected at home, care should be taken to keep the sample warm at body temperature and deliver it as soon as possible (within an hour) to the laboratory. The collection procedure is also important, since initial portion of the ejaculate contains highest sperm concentration.
Testing of sperm motility and sperm morphology through semen analysis would also provide valuable indicators in predicting success of infertility treatments such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Laboratory Blood Tests
Blood tests are performed to evaluate whether hormones: testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are at normal levels. Tests to measure levels of other hormones such as prolactin and estrogen may be done if symptoms such as low sex drive and breast enlargement are present. Blood tests can also help to detect presence of infections and sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia.
Post Ejaculatory Urine Test
A sample of post ejaculatory urine is tested to check for the presence of sperm in urine. This would confirm or rule out retrograde ejaculation which is a cause of infertility in men. The urine test can also be used to check for infections.
An ultrasound scan is performed to locate damages or blockages in the reproductive tract including the prostate, seminal vesicles and ejaculatory ducts. This test can also help to determine accurate size of testes and check for the presence of cysts, testicular cancer, abnormal blood flow or varicocele.
In vasography, an x-ray examination of vas deferens (tubes that transport sperm from testes to penis) is performed to check for any blocks or leakage of sperm.
This is an advanced infertility test for men, performed only on rare occasions. In this test, a small sample of tissue is collected from one or both testicles through a minor surgical procedure to check for any abnormalities in sperm production.
Genetic tests are simple blood tests usually performed for both male and female partners. These tests are performed to verify whether genetic problems in one or both partners is preventing successful conception or causing recurrent miscarriages. Genetic tests can detect problems such as DNA fragmentation, chromosomal defects etc.